Tuesday, July 09, 2013

INTERNET: The King (Google Reader) is Dead. Long Live the New King (Feedly)

[Do NOT click on ANY LINK found in the comment section of this blog. No matter how innocuous the link MIGHT appear to be, it is MOST LIKELY SPAM or a link to MALWARE. I am disheartened by the need to do this, which accounts for the sparsity of posts this year.]

I'm easy to enrage these days. Things are getting screwed up all over the Internet with new Web 2.0 re-designs that are horrible, just horrible. I've got a snit going (my second in a month) with PayPal over letting BitDefender charge me for a renewal when I used their program for a day last year and immediately replaced it with eSet Anti-Virus because eSet, ummmm, didn't DESTROY MY DATA!!!! You can read the details here.

Another major SNAFU was Google's decision to shut down Google Reader. This was close to a 'ban Google' moment as anything I've come across. I use GMail, I search with Google, whether it be text or images, occasionally use Google Docs in 'sharing' situations,'  and I've stayed with Google through thick and thin (Security issues, lack of technical support, re-designing for LESS effectiveness, etc.). And of course, this blog is a Google product (if not a creation).

But the actual Google thingamajig I used most often was Google Reader. Which was a RSS Feed congregator. For those who have never experienced that kind of programming, what it did was go through the sites I listed and see if anything new had been published by that site. THEN, it would present me with an ever-updating list of those changes. I could see the title of the change and a brief part of the text from the change, as well as the date and time. I could filter the list of news by site or by date and I could easily keep track of what I had read and what I hadn't. And I could even read the news right there in Google Reader, sans the ads and other detritus from the originating site. In all, I used Google Reader to track 249 sites. That's 249 sites that I didn't visit every day, unless Google Reader told me there was something of worth there. And even then, I could get the information directly without clicking on a link/bookmark or typing in an URL. And I could follow Google Reader on my main computer, the secondary computer in my bedroom or on any of my tablets spread out around the house. Or if I was at a client's and had some time to kill.


And that's not even taking into account the sharing features of the product that made it easy to blog or email or twitter about an interesting posting I had just read. I don't share much. But I DO rant [G].

Soooooo, let's just say I was in a murderous mood when I read Google was killing off Reader. I desperately needed to vent and couldn't. Reader was going away, despite being INCREDIBLY SUCCESSFUL, with MILLIONS of users and not a few businesses built on Reader services, because it didn't fit in with Google's 'vision of the future.' It was the victim of the Google-Facebook battle for eyeballs that STAY in their tight little website community. If any news congregating was going to be done, it would have to done within the community called Google+. It was the only way to monetize the service. My response to THAT decision was a string of epithets ten words long. No points for figuring out exactly what I said.

So, I went looking for alternatives. I tried Feedly. No. I tried OldReader. Maybe. I tried Omea Reader. Sort of yes. The problem with Omea was that it wasn't being supported any longer and was a standalone Windows program. I liked Omea's way of working, but hated having to occasionally access the news item in my web-browser because Omea would feed the link to my default browser, Firefox, while the browser I was using all the time was Pale Moon. (I like to control what and where I go to on the web, and don't normally like having my browsing session interrupted (and occasionally screwed up) by some program deciding to add to my loaded tabs list. I have Firefox security on high and Pale Moon a little looser because I don't have any unexpected third-party access.

I went back to OldReader, which was making massive changes every day, in the race to be the world's replacement for Google Reader. I've seen guesses of Google Reader's market ownership in the high 80 per cents area. THAT'S what Google determined wasn't worth keeping around. Grrrrrr!!!!!!! But something was just off with OldReader. It didn't have Google Reader's snappy response. Organizing was a chore with an awkward interface. I was still looking for the right alternative.

And I found it with Feedly. In the same month of hectic updating, Feedly had been working to take over the RSS universe. And I think Feedly has managed to do that, at least in spirit, if not in practice. The new Feedly made it a snap to read in all my Google Reader settings. (Getting those settings in OldReader in the original rush to find a replacement, had taken had taken me FOUR days!!!!). The organization remains a little iffy, but once you get the hang of it, I think it's eminently workable. And there are classifications (like Basketball, Baseball, OtherSports, Bridge, etc) where you can cut your big list down into manageable bites. Reading is pretty smooth, and the sharing even easier. Although the latter doesn't matter to me.

I have survived the loss of a loved site. I have found true affection for a new one. But still I seethe. And so does a lot of the industry. There was a very good article at TeleRead by Chris Meadows that organizes the thoughts he had and those of the industry in the wake of the Google Reader shutdown fiasco. In essence, Google said you can't complain to us when we shut down a product you were using for FREE. It's our toy, in essence, and we are taking our basketball home. Tough luck for you users and for the companies out there who had developed products (their livelihood) on the back of Google Reader services. Build your house on sand and don't be surprised the foundation can, and has, crumbled.

Don't trust Google, we make no promises to you at all.

I'm not far from actually hating Google enough to abandon it entirely. Do no harm?!?!!?! That's become a joke of a motto. But in this instance, with a quality replacement in hand, Google Reader cannot become the hill of my last battle with the juggernaut. It's not a hill worth dying over.

But dang, I wish Google hurt a little more over this than it does.

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